How Using a Smart IBC Solution Can Remove Supply Chain Management Headaches

Managing a supply chain for not only your own stock, but also that of your customers can be tricky at the best of times, but even more so when the customer allows their stock to run very low and then needs a restock with short notice. This is often the case for many distributors across a variety of sectors including chemicals, beverages, paints, dyes and inks, and lubricants.

There are several common problems associated with IBC supply chains that can have big impacts and management headaches for distributors. These are: 

  • Customer last minute restocks.
  • Over/under stocked products in your warehouse.
  • Manually having to check fluid levels. 
To compensate for this shortfall, companies will overstock on products in order to be able to ship them out quickly – but this can lead to its own set of problems. If a particular product doesn’t sell, then it becomes wasted space in a stock room that could be used for better selling products and in some cases the product can go off if left too long in an IBC.

Measuring IBC Levels

With IBCs usually stacked on top of each other, often in large product groupings, it can be increasingly difficult to get an accurate level measurement by conventional methods when checking your inventory. This inaccuracy can result in stock running out, running too low to be replaceable at short notice or just generally being costly and time consuming to try and find the levels. Manual methods of getting these measurements can include:

  • Visual inspection of the tank via the level markings on the sides.
  • Using a measuring stick (often a broom handle or long pole).
  • Weight of the tank.

While these methods will work in a general capacity, they are inefficient, prone to human error and sometimes just not possible – due to the IBCs placement, remote location or if they are stacked in large racks. All of them require someone (or several people) to go around and manually take the measurements – a time consuming and impractical use of your staff’s time. 

This is especially true for those companies with customer or product IBCs in remote or inaccessible locations, where manual reading of the levels is just not possible without prior planning and adjustments. 


Tracking your Goods

Finally, a supply chain relies on knowing when goods have left your warehouse and arrived at a customer’s location. With the implementation of tracking for companies like Amazon, Evri and Royal Mail – many businesses do not use any form of tracking on their product, just a signature on a delivery receipt. This is ok, but what if the customer has requested delivery when they are not in, or delivery to a non-manned location. How will you be able to tell if the product has been delivered as requested without any spillage, damage or the correct amount? 

Alongside this, invoicing for delivered goods can be a time-consuming process when it is done manually, oftentimes having to wait for a customer to confirm delivery or when your team has capacity to process all the invoices. 


Smart IBC

Pathfindr’s non-intrusive rigid intermediate bulk container (IBC) tracking and monitoring solution allows customers to not only understand where their rigid IBCs are, the temperature that they’re experiencing, but also the level of the fluid that the IBC contains. 

Our Smart IBC device is attached to the exterior top surface of the IBC – where the radar sensor measures the volume of material in the IBC. 

Smart IBC

The Smart IBC Portal

All the data from your Smart IBC monitors is uploaded to a dedicated online portal that not only shows real-time fill levels, temperature, and location, but also historical data, allowing you to better plan usage forecasting, see your IBCs location history and monitor temperature changes.

The portal can be accessed online through either desktop or mobile, allowing you around the clock monitoring of your IBCs remotely, even during your closed hours. 

How Can This Help My Supply Chain? 

Looking over the points above, Pathfindr’s Smart IBC has the capability to turn a manual, time consuming process, into a streamlined, autonomous one that works in near real-time. 

Stock Management
By using a Smart IBC monitor, you will be able to set level alerts on your tanks that when they reach a predetermined level, you are notified and can proactively restock before you ever run out – instantly changing your ability to respond to last-minute customer orders. On a side note, should you send out IBCs to customers with the Smart IBC monitor attached to it, you will be able to see your customer’s fill levels and be able to offer a scheduled refill, alleviating the last-minute order issue. 

If your IBCs contain liquids that are affected or spoiled by temperature changes, the monitor can alert you to any changes that go past your set threshold – so you can ensure that any sensitive products are not ruined before they are delivered to customers. 

Measuring IBC Levels
As mentioned above, the Smart IBC monitor will allow you to see the levels of all your IBCs with the system attached, in an easy-to-read graphremoving the need for manually measuring and recording the data every time it is needed. The solution removes the guesswork and human error from recording the data and allows you to monitor those IBCs in remote locations, or those that are stacked on top of each other in a warehouse.

This reduces the time needed to get readings, and enables you to streamline your supply chain management, by:

  • Proactively request supplies when stock runs low.
  • Highlighting products not selling.
  • Seeing when products are getting close to shelf-life expiry.
  • Increasing stock levels of fast selling products.

Tracking your IBCs

By knowing where your IBCs are at all times, you can increase your supply chain efficiency greatly. Having the ability to accurately inform your customers where their IBCs are (and a better estimate for delivery), thanks to the near real-time GPS tracking, and knowing when they have arrived at their final location makes customer relations and invoicing a much less strained process. Thanks to Pathfindr’s Restful API, you can export the data to your own systems, meaning a fully joined up process.

No longer will you have to send someone to hunt around a warehouse or external storage facility looking for your IBCs that were returned, you can now know their location (and where they have been as well). This reduces your scrappage and loss costs during transportation and drop off.

This list is by no means exhaustive but enables you to have a much greater insight into how the Smart IBC solution can greatly decrease your supply chain management headaches and instead turn it into a streamlined and effect process.

For more information, or to book a demo to see how Smart IBC can help your business, click the link below.